The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Euroromance: Prelude

So, I've recently returned from a trip abroad as they say in those black and white movies where men wear top hats and women, evening gowns.

It was unbelievable.

It was romantic.

It was a trip with . . . myself.

Yes, myself. I totally pulled an Eat, Pray, Love move and took a vacation with myself to find myself. Though in all actuality she wussed out and took a friend for part of her trip. I'm way more hard core.

It's not a big deal. Just how I roll.

Besides that text that is over read by many woman I do not care to know, my inspiration for this trip was threefold.

1. Ever since my husband left for his six-month pleasure cruise with the pirates, I have been the sole caregiver for my son. Meaning, I am in nonstop mommytakecareofme mode. Which is, in a word, exhausting. Or depleting. Or insanity inducing (okay that last one was two words). So I needed some time where I only needed to care for three people: me, myself, and I.

2. Added to the constant care my son needs, my work in the lab had also begun to ramp up. I was working 7 days a week, running multiple experiments at a time. Now, while that might not sound so bad to those nonexistent scientist readers of my blog who are also in grad school, combine that increased work schedule with number 1 and you get a woman who is literally getting no time to herself. I knew that son out of the picture wasn't enough. I would just increase my working hours, so I would have to go somewhere where work couldn't find me.

3. I impulse bought a plane ticket to Amsterdam without thinking it through all the way (reasons 1 and 2 were post-ticket buying rational).

As soon as the screen with "purchase confirmed" flashed on my computer, I knew I was in trouble. This impulse buy was not something I could return without consequences. And it wasn't something I'd even hinted at to the primary (and sole) breadwinner of the family. This impulse buy could prove to very costly in emotional upheaval as well as monetary loss.

So I did what any sane person does who doesn't make any money and relies solely on the kindness of a sugar daddy and has just purchased a flight for a 10-day vacation in Europe, I shared the news with my roommate, and we had a good 15-minute excited squeal over it. Then I emailed my husband (aka the breadwinner) a hurried nopauseforbreath email that went something like this:

hi, i justboughtatickettoamsterdambutdon'tworryitwascheapandicanrefunditifihavetowithouttoomuchofapenaltyandmymomwilltakeoursonsohe'llbefine.
what do you think? icanalwaystakeitback.

Five minutes after I hit send, my phone rang.

Breadwinner (bw): So, you bought a ticket to Amsterdam? You've never even mentioned that you wanted to go to Amsterdam.

me: Yes. I've always wanted to go to Amsterdam. I've read a million books about it. Besides it wasn't that expensive. Did I mention it was cheap? I can try to take it back. Did I say cheap?

bw: You did mention that. Ummm, I guess if that's what you want to do then go.

[awkward silence]

me: Okay, then, I'll go. If it's okay with you.

bw: Sure. I guess.

me: I'll be careful.

[awkward silence. then "I've got to go's," then hanging up]

me [to my roommate]: I think he's upset.

[phone rings again]

bw: You know, I think we ended that phone call badly. I am bummed because I really just want to be able to take this trip with you instead of being a non-scientist in an adventure with pirates! but really, I think you should go. It will be great.

[moment of sweetness and light all around]

And that, good people, is my sugar daddy. How about a round of applause for all of that superhuman goodness?

So that was it. I had just taken the first step in taking time off from constant care giving and in getting truly away from work.

I then, transitioned into massive planning mode for a trip that would rekindle the fires of romance for that person I should love most in the world: me.

Gentle reader, stay tuned for further details . . .

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